Poverty Inc., the new documentary that has grown out of the Acton Institute’s PovertyCure initiative, was awarded Atlas Network’s Templeton Freedom Award at an event last night in New York.

Brad Lips, chief executive of the Washington-based Atlas Network, which administers the award, said the documentary is “without question” worth the attention it is receiving. “Shining a light on an uncomfortable side of charity — where a paternalistic mindset puts the aid industry at the center of efforts to rescue the poor — Poverty, Inc. calls on us to embrace a different mental model,” he said. “The film makes a persuasive case that the most effective solutions to poverty lie in unleashing entrepreneurs to find new, innovative, and efficient ways to meet people’s needs.”

Acton Executive Director Kris Mauren said the award recognizes that the entire business of international development and foreign aid is at a tipping point. “While entrenched interests remain, mounting evidence is causing people of all political stripes to question whether their actions are really helping the poor,” he said. “This is where Poverty, Inc. comes in. Operating under the conviction that thoughtful documentaries change culture, we designed Poverty, Inc. to spearhead a broad reconsideration of poverty that is nonpartisan but pro-market.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 13, 2015

Religious liberty key to refugee crisis, leaders say
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities are essential to resolving the escalating refugee crisis in Syria and other countries, human rights advocates said at a forum in the nation’s capital.

The mysterious creator of bitcoin could be nominated for a Nobel prize in economics
Ian Kar, Quartz

No one knows exactly who Satoshi Nakamoto is (though many have tried to find out). That hasn’t stopped a UCLA finance professor from promising to get the pseudonymous bitcoin creator nominated for the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences—or, as it’s more commonly called, the Nobel prize in economics.

A marriage penalty for the poor
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

Few issues in American politics are more hotly debated than the role of marriage in explaining poverty. Some argue that the decline in marriage is one of the main contributors to poverty and low-income in America. Others argue that economic and structural factors are more important. But whatever side you come down on, it is hard to justify financially penalizing couples with children who choose to marry.

Washington raises pressure on India over U.S. human trafficking visas
Jason Szep, Reuters

The U.S. government is stepping up pressure on India to end a controversial policy of placing restrictions on passports of Indian nationals rescued from forced labor or human trafficking in the United States, a U.S. State Department official said.

Marco Rubio has inspired plenty of chin-stroking over his recent remarks about welders earning more than philosophers.

“We need more welders and less philosophers,” he concluded in a recent debate.

The fact-checkers proceeded to fact-check, with many quickly declaring falsehood (e.g. 1, 2). Yet the series of subsequent quibbles over who actually makes how much continue to side-step the bigger issue. Though the liberal arts are indeed important and ought not be viewed simply in terms of “vocational training,” mainstream American culture is certainly fond of pretending as much.

The individualistic  dream-stoking rhetoric, inflated expectations, and subsequent angst have become all too nightmarish a cliche among my generation, joined by ever-increasing attempts to secure more government goodies to keep the machine humming along. Surely there are many who approach the liberal arts with a healthy perspective, but at the same time, the jokes about the barista going for his third Master’s degree aren’t exactly jokes.

Rather than approaching each individual as a creative person with unique gifts and educational aspirations, we continue to pretend that one vocational or educational track ought to apply to all. At the same time, rather than approaching the so-called “job market” as an ecosystem of creativity and collaboration, filled with countless human needs waiting to be met, we revert to thinking only of ourselves, self-constructing our preferred vocational destinies while we move through the college assembly line. (more…)

NUNReligious shareholder activists egging on a federal investigation of ExxonMobil include the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, which counts the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey, among its faith-based members. The narrative promulgated by the activists is that the energy giant conducted climate-change research and buried the results when the data inconveniently proved burning fossil fuels was a major contributor.

All this might be a tempest in a teapot if not for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) pressing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to prosecute ExxonMobil under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act following the so-called “revelations” reported by the Los Angeles Times and, to a more sensationalistic extreme, Inside Climate News. As noted in a previous post, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley also are on board, not to mention former Vice President and inconvenient truth teller Al Gore. Of course, this onslaught aimed at ExxonMobil is timed to coincide with the upcoming United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) in December.

The Tri-State Coalition’s website admits as much: (more…)

316853_288803591143707_552690558_nIn a recent episode of EconTalk, Russell Roberts chats with Acton Institute’s Michael Mattheson Miller about Poverty, Inc., the award-winning documentary on the challenges of poverty alleviation in the developing world.

The entire conversation is rich and varied, ranging from the ill effects of Western do-gooderism to the  dignity of work to the need for institutions of justice.

You can listen to the whole thing below:

Later in the episode, Miller discusses the need for us to reach beyond mere humanitarianism to a fuller expression of love, recognizing the dignity and capacity of every human person, as well as the full scope of human needs — material, social, spiritual, and otherwise: (more…)

covOver the past few decades, economist Thomas Sowell has been one of the most effective, yet under under-appreciated, proponents of conservative and libertarian economic thought. He is also one of our most powerful critics of the often destructive and harmful effects of liberal economic policies.

Sowell frames the differences between the left and the right as a “conflict of visions”, a political divide separated by “constrained” and “unconstrained” visions. As Wikipedia helpfully summarizes this view:

Writing for a special New York Times section on giving, Alina Tugend looks at the knotty problem of how best to help those in need. She digs into things like the economics behind food pantries and how relief donations to those devastated by natural disasters often wind up making things worse.

For her story, Tugend interviewed Michael Matheson Miller, Acton research fellow and producer of the new documentary Poverty Inc.

“Look seriously into yourself,” said Michael Matheson Miller, director and producer of the documentary “Poverty Inc.,” which will be released on iTunes in December. “People ask, ‘What can I do to help poverty?’ and that’s often the wrong question. The right one is, ‘What do people need to create prosperity in their families and community and what can I do to help?’ ”

Read “When Making Donations, Know an Agency’s Needs” by Alina Tugend in the New York Times.

While you’re at it, listen to Russ Roberts and Miller talk about the new Poverty Inc. documentary on the always interesting EconTalk podcast. Here’s Roberts on the film: (more…)